With the rise of user-created Internet content and social media came influence marketing.
Influence marketing is still a fairly new phenomenon; brands, talent agencies, and the influencers themselves are still trying to figure out what it’s all about and how much it’s worth.
The influencer market
Obviously, having an Internet celebrity like Kim Kardashian pump your product is going to be good for business. But such popular influencers require a massive marketing budget.
Are there affordable ways for small businesses to tap into influence marketing?
Figuring out how much to pay an influencer is a confusing process for any brand, and rates fluctuate like the stock market. Says Henry Langer of influencer search platform Hypr, “Pricing influencer posts is part art, part science.” There are many factors influencing the pricing of posts and their success – factors that are interconnected and difficult to track.
Because influence marketing is so new, brands may have unrealistic expectations, especially if they think the process will resemble their collaborations with traditional marketers – it won’t.
The influencers themselves are often very young superstars who have a lot of personality, but little experience with clients.
They may have a ton of followers, but may also flake on their end of the deal or throw off your marketing campaign by following their own whims instead of your instructions. And while talent agencies can help connect your brand to relevant influencers, they also upcharge significantly.
Is it worth sorting through all this confusion
Could be. A 2016 study by TapInfluence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions found that influence marketing has an 11 percent higher ROI than more traditional forms of brand marketing.
But how do you know you’re putting your dollars where it counts?
As part of Digiday’s Confessions series, wherein they “exchange anonymity for honesty,” an influence marketing executive was asked to give the real dish on influencers. They explained that, when influence marketing first started out, prices were highly inflated by a small number of heavyweight Internet celebs who could charge huge sums for their endorsements.
Shortly thereafter, “countless influencer marketing platforms… popped up,” to connect brands with a growing talent pool of lesser influencers, or “micro-influencers,” who would post for more affordable prices.
Not into it
But one of the exec’s most startling reveals was their poor opinion of micro-influence marketing, which they called “the biggest scam.” According to this insider, “super small influencers… will do anything for a $100 gift card,” but that doesn’t mean that their posts are worthwhile. Apparently micro-influencers have high rates of engagement, but their small followings mean that you’re paying for relatively little exposure.
To really get the most of out of influence marketing, you’d have to shell out thousands of dollars to influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers.
Probably not a realistic strategy for most small businesses.
If you decide to go the micro-influencer route, make sure you do your research. You may have better luck skipping the talent agencies and doing your own online research to find relevant influencers. Focus on finding local, niche influencers with whom you share a target audience.
Your two cents
What do you think? Has your small business had success with influence marketing? Or is it better left to large companies who can afford to pay big-time names?